My New Scout Notecards “Trustworthy”

I’m adding a new illustrated notecard to the Scouting items I have in my Etsy store – while I have several popular Eagle Scout cards, this one is an all-occasion card. I drew these cheery scouts alongside the goals of the Scout Law – to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent – to create a notecard that can be used for any occasion, whether to celebrate a rank advancement or merit badge, offer words of encouragement or to thank a mentor, scoutmaster or fellow scout. I first drew this when my son was rising through the ranks toward Eagle Scout, to celebrate the Scout Law in a fun visual way. The notecards make a great gift for a Scout leader too. The cards are blank inside, and all the ordering info is here on my Etsy page.

My artwork is printed in black and white on sturdy card stock, invitation-size, which is 4.25″ wide and 5.5″ high, 8 cards to a box and 8 white envelopes are included. If mailed, the card requires standard first-class postage. As with all my other cards, the cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA.

If you want to order some and live in the Central Bucks County area, and would like to avoid the shipping charges, please don’t click on the ‘Buy’ button, instead just email me through Etsy, or here on my website Contact page, to see if we can arrange for you to pick up the card in person.

If you want to have a pre-printed message printed on the inside of your cards, or for discounts on quantities greater than 24 cards, just contact me to inquire about pricing.

All images on this card are © Pat Achilles. They may not be used or reproduced without the consent of the artist.

My Fiddling Mouse and PEI Farm on Etsy

I’ve added a few more cheery notecards to Etsy, both hand-illustrated items that you won’t find anywhere but in my Etsy store.

The card below is my dancing and fiddle-playing mouse, part of a series of music-themed illustrations I’ve drawn. The notecards are printed on sturdy glossy card stock and come 8 to a box, with 8 envelopes. If you’d like some to send or give to a musical friend, ordering info is here.

My second card is a watercolor I painted years back, after visiting our friends who owned a lovely farm in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the place where the classic children’s story Anne of Green Gables was set. The red roads and lush countryside of PEI is as real now as when Lucy Montgomery wrote the story in the early 1900s. My original artwork is in full color. This pack of 8 cards and envelopes has cardstock that is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA. Ordering info is here.

Thanks for checking out my original notecards, and while your on Etsy take a look at my other cards for business owners, Scouting and more!

My Fox & Cello Notecards now on Etsy

I’ve added a few cheery notecards to Etsy, some with fun little hand-illustrated critters that you won’t find anywhere but in my Etsy store.

The first is a fox playing a cello, which is part of a series of music-themed illustrations I’ve drawn. Surprisingly, I got an order for these cards all the way from France a while back, from a woman whose daughter loves foxes, and plays the cello. A rare occurrence of me hitting the bullseye! If you’d like some to send or give to a musical friend, they are 8 cards and 8 envelopes in a box, and the ordering info is here.

For my second one below I watercolored a happy little hamster to celebrate the USA, for a notecard to use for thank yous, congratulations or any other noteworthy American occasion. The inside of the card is blank and my original artwork is in full color. This pack of 8 cards and envelopes has cardstock that is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA. Ordering info is here.

I had a request for the third one, it uses a New-Yorker-style cartoon i drew a while back, as a business referral thank you note. The outside shows 3 energetic businesswomen cheering “2! 4! 6! 8!” and on the inside a brief messages reads: “Referrals I appreciate!” with space below for a personal note.Ordering info is here.

I plan to put up a few more notecards soon – thanks for checking them out!

Illustrating the Maasai

Almost ten years ago I illustrated the African folktale The Lion, the Ostrich and the Squirrel for the Maasai Cultural Exchange Project. I learned much about the work of MCEP in doing this book, an organization that helps to build wells in Kenya and pay for education of women and children. I helped frame the actual story, which involves all animal characters, by suggesting we start the story by showing a common Maasai family tradition: the grandmother gathering the grandchildren under an acacia tree to tell stories. A friend of mine asked me to make this cover illustration into a notecard for her. I’ve just added it to my Etsy line of illustrated cards, and it can be seen and ordered here.

This is pack of 8 notecards (blank inside) and 8 ivory envelopes. Printed on the back of the notecard is a description of the scene: “The artwork shows the Rift Valley of Kenya, a region of many Maasai villages. A grandmother making bead jewelry while seated on a cowhide tells her grandchildren a folk tale in the shade of an acacia tree. An enkaji – a home made of mud and sticks – is behind them. A father and son herd goats in the background, and behind them is a fence of acacia branches, which encircles the villages to keep wild animals from entering.” When I drew the illustrations for this book I had the kind cooperation of several Maasai visitors who explained specific cultural details in the drawing, so the scene is authentic.

The 8 cards (same illustration on each) in this pack are 5 1/2″ wide by 4 1/4″ high, which is a typical ‘invitation’ size notecard, taking regular first class postage. The cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA.

If you would like a notecard of this sort customized by me to include your personal message or a custom-drawn illustration, please contact me through my Contact page to discuss your ideas and my illustration fees.

I am happy to say that The Lion, the Ostrich and the Squirrel is in schools and libraries in Maasailand, and is especially useful because the story is written in both English and Swahili. The book is available for purchase, with proceeds going to MCEP, here.

Gilbert & Sullivan Coloring Pages

I’ve added a new illustrated item to my Etsy shop: a digitally downloadable pair of coloring sheets, for those who like to color as a hobby and are fans of G&S. That’s a pretty selective niche, you say? That may be, but I’ve had requests for G&S coloring books before, so I’m starting with these two pages to see if there is viable interest out there for a series. I’m a huge fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, having illustrated a number of posters for the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and hope these provide some quiet entertainment for friends who feel the same.

These two drawings are of main characters of the operetta The Pirates of Penzance – Frederic, the young pirate who is freed from his indenture, and Mabel, the lovely lass with whom he falls in love. To see the coloring sheets and all ordering info, just visit my Etsy shop HERE.

With an Etsy Digital Download, the item you are purchasing is the electronic file you need to print off a drawing from your own home printer. There are no physical papers or drawing that are mailed to you, the purchaser. As soon as you pay the small fee on Etsy for downloading the images, you can print them out and start coloring – but I stress, you do need your own home printer to put the drawings onto paper.

To see the art I’ve created for Bucks G&S you can see my post HERE. There are plenty of other G&S characters to draw, and I hope to hear from customers as to which ones to draw next. Etsy has a message feature, so I invite friends to drop me a line for other coloring sheet ideas.

New Scout Card for ‘Crossing Over’ from Cub to Scout

I have added to my line of Boy Scout congratulations cards – the two I have drawn for Eagle Scouts are quite popular sellers on my Etsy page – by drawing a whimsical illustration for young boys who are making their ‘Crossing Over Ceremony’ from Cub Scouts into full Boy Scouts. I’ll add, the card is inspired by my oldest grandson, who has just completed his Crossing Over in Scouts. I’m very proud of him and his friends, who have completed their work as a Cub and want to further their knowledge and experience in BSA.

In my whimsical drawing style, I drew a friendly adult Eagle, in scout troop leader uniform, waving 3 happy little eagles across a footbridge in the great outdoors. This mirrors the Crossing Over Ceremony that young scouts go through when they ‘cross over the bridge’ from Cubs to Boy Scouts.

I first pencilled in a sketch of the scene –

I tightened up the drawing , scanned it & colored a printout roughly to work out the colors –

– and then transferred the drawing to illustration board, outlined in ink and painted it in with acrylic washes.

To see the finished card, inside message, and all other info and for purchasing, please see my Etsy shop HERE.

A fan of my cards who is a troop leader reviewed them this way: “These cards are exceptionally unique and well drawn. The messages are well thought out and brief, a good thing. I always add a personal message to the card as well, and there is room to do that. These are beautiful cards and an inspiration to the scouts receiving them.”

My St. Patrick’s Day Illustrated Cards

My mother was born in lovely County Roscommon, Ireland, and I adored my trip with my husband to that beautiful island two years ago. I’m happy to make my hand-drawn St. Patrick’s Day cards available now in my Etsy shop – one showing a charming illustrated scene and two that are funny in cheery Irish fashion.

The first card is based on the memory my mother had of the small farmhouse they lived in, where she as a very young child would play teacher, lining up pebbles as pupils on the stone wall in front of their house. My card, shown below, has a traditional Irish blessing inside, which starts “May God give you/ For every storm, a rainbow/ For every tear, a smile”. . . You can read the entire blessing in the description of the card on my Etsy page.

Here are the two funny cards, with the inside punchlines below.

For full descriptions and ordering info, do check out my Etsy shop!

My NYC Rockefeller Tree Christmas Card

It’s not too early to think about the holidays – I’m already working on three clients’ holiday cards for their businesses

Because of this, I’ve recently added a Christmas card to my listings on Etsy – one I drew last year for my family, in the classic New Yorker black & white style, not long after my first cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. If you’ve ever seen this iconic tree you never forget its overwhelming presence!

I drew this cartoon in black prisma pencil and painted it in ink washes. (Closeups of the art are on my Etsy page) It shows the legendary tree at Rockefeller Center, which about 100 million people visit each year, teeming with lights but with one small dark area; a small child looking up comments, “They missed a spot.”

Inside the card is the message “May your Christmas be filled with Peace and Joy and a thousand twinkling lights!”

Single cards are available on my Etsy shop HERE and boxes of 8 cards are available on my website store HERE.If you’d like more than 8 cards, or would like to use this card for your company holiday card, email me and we’ll work out the details. And if you live near me in the Central Bucks area and want to avoid postage charges, simply email me what you’d like to order and you can pay when you pick up the cards from me.

Updated: For Artists, Comparing Etsy and Zazzle

About a year ago I wrote a post on my own experiences selling my original illustrations and cards on two online platforms, Etsy and Zazzle. It is a post that gets hits almost every day from readers – I presume, mostly artists like me. Then Zazzle changed their policies for the worse, and I deleted my account there. Now Etsy is also changing its policies, also for the worse for small business artists, so I’m updating this post to explain the new unfortunate wrinkle in Etsy’s policies.

Here is my initial post’s review of the two platforms:

My experience of ‘opening a shop on Etsy’ to display my Eagle Scout congratulations cards has been a very good one so far.  I would recommend Etsy to other artists, and I’ll explain why for me it is a better fit than another popular platform for selling product art, Zazzle.

At Zazzle you can also open a ‘shop’ page, but a big difference is that Zazzle actually does the production work on your items – whether you wish to sell your art printed on cards, t-shirts, mugs, etc.  So when someone orders your Zazzle item, it ships directly from Zazzle and you don’t see the finished product – therefore you cannot judge the quality of the print job. Because Zazzle does the heavy lifting of production and distribution, you, the artist, receive a very small percentage of the asking price.

With Etsy the artist herself has to have the products made and in stock, so she gets to monitor and approve the print quality – I like this aspect better even though it means I have to do the production myself. (I have a terrific printing partner in Cortineo Creative, here in my hometown of Doylestown.) When a buyer orders my cards, I receive the full asking price that I list on my shop page. Etsy also estimates, from a form I filled out on the dimensions & weight of my product, what the postage will be on the package, and that is added onto my asking price so the buyer pays that postage as well. Etsy provides a customized shipping label and packing slip that I can print out and put on the package; when Etsy deposits my earnings, they deduct the cost of the postage from my total earnings, since the buyer initially paid that postage cost to me.

The tradeoff in payment between the two is this: I can list my products on Zazzle for free; with Etsy there is a charge for each item in my shop. The charge is 20 cents per item per quarter of a year. So I do pay 80 cents per year for each individual card on Etsy – so far this seems like a good tradeoff, since I am being paid the full price of my cards. Another disparity is, Zazzle has a threshold you must pass before they will send you your earnings – I believe it is $50 – and it takes a number of sales to accrue that amount since you are making a small percentage of the payment on each purchase.  Etsy, on the other hand, deposits your earnings into your associated bank account once a week.

One other detail, on Zazzle, there is an option to allow your buying customers to ‘customize’ the item they are purchasing.  These custom changes range from changing the color of the t-shirt and ink color, to adding their own words to your design. While this may be attractive to buyers who want the item for a very specific purpose, as an artist I hesitate to let others adjust and modify my designs. I have complete control with my Etsy products since I do the production. On Etsy, if I offer one item in two or three different colors or other characteristics, I CAN list the variations as an ‘option’ under the main description of the product – but again, I myself have to maintain ALL the varieties of the options in stock, so I can fulfill orders quickly when they come in.

Also important, is, I have done no advertising at all – until this post – to promote my cards on Etsy and yet I’ve made a number of sales, and have received great reviews from my customers, without even soliciting reviews.

Update 01/03/19: When I learned about 2 other options with payment for Zazzle:

  1. Under your payment settings and the PayPal option at the top (in very small print) it says
    Note: For PayPal there is a minimum threshold of $50 to be paid automatically. If you have less than $50 balance after one month of sales, we will hold your funds for future use, or you may request a PayPal payment for a $2.50 fee. Payment will be made within 45 days.
  2.  And if you are purchasing an item from another Zazzle store, you may use your account’s  “Cleared Earnings” against the cost of the item you are purchasing, sort of like a store credit.

So those are two ways to ‘use’ your Zazzle earnings, other than waiting for a check when you reach the threshold.

Update 04/17/19: When Zazzle made an unfortunate change

I have now deleted my Zazzle store, mainly because they announced “accounts that have been non-contributing (that is, haven’t either (1) published a public product, or (2) had a Referral Sale attributed to that account) for the previous 15 month period will be charged a “Non-Contributing Account Fee.”  I don’t make enough through Zazzle to incur another fee, so I’ve cancelled

Etsy now has announced as follows: “Starting on July 30, 2019, items that ship free and shops that guarantee free shipping to buyers in the US on orders $35 and above will get priority placement in US search results. Shoppers in the US will primarily see items that ship free and shops that offer free shipping on orders of $35 in the top, most visible rows of search. We’ll also begin to prioritize these items wherever Etsy advertises in the US—in email marketing, social media, and television ads.”

Why am I very unhappy with Etsy’s policy change? Consider that currently Etsy takes 3.5% off the top of the selling price (which does not including the shipping fee) of each sale I make – this is their fee, which is a fair commission for the service they provide. If I bundle my shipping fee into my product cost (which would almost double the selling price of my cards) and offer ‘free shipping,’ obviously Etsy will make a bigger commission on each of my sales. 

So Etsy wants to make more money off my sales – that’s not a crime, but this is the wrong way to do it. Right now when my customers are about to make a purchase they see exactly what I charge for my items and exactly what they’ll pay in postage, and that kind of transparency is ideal for seller/buyer relationships. I would prefer Etsy be honest and just increase its commission percentage instead of squeezing small artisanal businesses to behave like Amazon, with ‘Free Shipping” as one of their big selling points. Etsy’s brand has never been ‘discount rates’, it has been ‘unique and handcrafted items’ which most buyers accept usually comes with a shipping fee.

Many other Etsy sellers have complained about the difficulty of estimating how much to bundle into their prices, to accommodate selling fees that vary wildly across the US, depending on whether the buyer is in an easily accessible city or out in a rural delivery address. If you notice some Etsy prices jumping up soon, but offering “free shipping,” you’ll know they are bundling in the shipping cost to get a better location on their search pages.

With my narrow margins I can’t afford to absorb shipping costs for my cards. If I bundle my shipping into my product price, my prices will look absurdly high and I’ll certainly lose customers. And if I don’t, my products will be buried under lots of pages of ‘free shipping’ sellers. It’s a lose-lose for me and other sellers who like to be up-front with their customers.

Etsy really has been an excellent platform, but this change is really a step down for the buyer-customer relationship. For now I am keeping my AchillesPortfolio products and prices the same and customers can clearly see what their shipping cost will be before they click to finalize their order, though I might be more difficult to find on the site.

Eagle Scout Thank You Notecards

When a Scout makes his Eagle rank and is celebrated with a Court of Honor, there are always some exceptional people to be thanked. The journey to Eagle is guided by Scoutmasters, parents, friends and others who inspire and encourage the Scout to accomplish the challenges needed to achieve Eagle rank.

For these special mentors in a Scout’s journey, several customers have asked me to produce smaller thank-you notes for Eagles to use. I have now listed these on my Etsy shop, AchillesPortfolio. My Eagle thank-you notecards come 20 to a pack and have my “Eagle Scout on a Hilltop” illustration on the front. To see my Etsy shop for further ordering details, click HERE.

I drew the artwork on this card when my son was in Scouts, because I was so impressed with these fine young men who achieved Scouting’s highest rank. I have these cards printed in full color on sturdy glossy card stock, invitation-size, which is 4.25″ wide and 5.5″ deep. No envelopes are included, but invitation-size envelopes that fit these perfectly are easily available at any office supply store like Staples. The card requires standard first-class postage. The cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and the cards are printed in the USA, and the cards are blank inside so a thank-you or other message can be written by the sender.

For special orders of quantity or size on these notecards please send your questions by clicking HERE to go to my Contact page.